Jan. 22, 2014
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - As was announced in the fall on the University of Notre Dame baseball team's Twitter account (@NDBaseball), the artificial surface company FieldTurf began installing a state-of-the-art artificial field at Frank Eck Stadium in late October with plans to have the facility ready for play at the beginning of the 2014 home slate in mid-March.
However, due to unseasonably poor weather around South Bend in November, an unknown number of home games will be relocated to other stadiums until the project can be finished with the hope of only playing a handful of games away from the Eck.
The surface, which will be completely artificial from the infield to the outfield and around the outskirts of the playing area, is used by over 30 Division I teams including several fellow ACC members.
"We are excited for FieldTurf at the Eck because it tangibly shows that Notre Dame is very committed to the baseball program and developing the student-athlete," said head coach Mik Aoki. "FieldTurf provides our program with a consistent playing surface day in and day out regardless of the weather. With South Bend receiving such a wide variety of conditions, the surface will allow us to play some games early in our home slate that we normally couldn't have played. I can think of at least three or four games during my three years here that if we had had an artificial surface, we would have been able to play. The surface also allows us to practice outside in the winter if the weather warms up for a day or two."
With the blessing of FieldTurf management, Notre Dame administration and the coaching staff, work began as soon as the fall season was completed in late October with a projected finish date of March 1. However, work was interrupted earlier than expected as South Bend was hit with heavy rains in early November and then more snowfall than the average in late November with the BYU football game as a prime example. The home finale was the coldest home game since 1991 and the first snow game since 1992.
Once the weather clears, the FieldTurf workers will need approximately five weeks to complete the installation.
As has been the case numerous times in the past, South Bend's Coveleski Stadium - home of the Arizona Diamondbacks' Class-A affiliate South Bend Silverhawks - will serve as a home away from home for several of the Irish home contests. Notre Dame played a three-game series at "The Cove" against Seton Hall in 2013. The Irish will also travel to the U.S. Steel Yard, which is located in nearby Gary, Ind. Notre Dame played host to Kent State at the facility last season. Chicago State's brand new baseball facility and Kalamazoo's Homer Stryker Field could also feature Irish games this spring.
A release tomorrow will outline a special deal that will reward fans for purchasing a season pass plan for the 2014 season.
For more information on Notre Dame baseball, check out the program on Facebook (/NDBaseball) and Twitter (@NDBaseball).
-- Russell Dorn, Assistant Media Relations Director